Originally aired on WTMJ-TV – July 10, 2018
For Ron Vorpahl, Erich and Hanna Podbielski are more than just students.
“They are like my left and right arm when I’m not here. They run classes, they teach at the YMCA for me. They do everything here,” said Ron Vorpahl, master instructor, and owner of American Taekwondo.
The siblings have been involved in taekwondo since elementary school. For older brother Erich. It was an extracurricular he was on the fence about.
“When I first started my favorite color was blue, so I thought I’ll get my blue belt and that will be it. But there is always something new to learn, always a new challenge,” said Erich Podbielski, third-degree black belt.
Now a third-degree black belt, Erich couldn’t imagine life without the sport.
“It’s been fantastic. This has become a way of life, part of who I am. I don’t know what I would do without taekwondo right now,” said Erich.
The same goes for Hanna, but her time on the mat began as more of an escape. After bullying caused her to switch from a conventional classroom setting to taking classes online through Wisconsin Virtual Academy.
“Just learning how to deal with that at a young age was difficult. I couldn’t cope with it. Seeing that the world is kind of not the greatest at a young age is really shocking to you,” said Hanna Podbielski, third-degree black belt.
But just as a virtual classroom helped both Erich and Hanna graduate valedictorians, taekwondo gave these siblings strength that no bully in life will be able to take away.
“That’s one reason why I think taekwondo is so important in this day in age because it teaches you that you have self-worth and that you can be confident in yourself. You have all that fire inside of you to just be who you want to be,” said Hanna.
To learn more about Wisconsin Virtual Academy, visit https://wiva.k12.com/.